California State Route 79

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State Route 79

SR 79 highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by Caltrans
Length106.731 mi[1] (171.767 km)
SR 79 is broken into pieces, and the length does not reflect the overlaps that would be required to make the route continuous.
Major junctions
South end I-8 near Descanso
Major intersections
North end I-10 in Beaumont
CountryUnited States
CountiesSan Diego, Riverside
Highway system
SR 78 I-80
Steven Rucker Memorial Highway sign, looking north
SR 79 looking north with Lake Cuyamaca on the right
California State Route 78 and 79 in Julian

State Route 79 (SR 79) is a state highway in the U.S. state of California. The route begins at Interstate 8 (I-8) in San Diego County, continuing north through the town of Cuyamaca into Julian. After passing through Warner Springs, the route crosses into Riverside County, serving the cities of Temecula and Murrieta. SR 79 ends at I-10 in Beaumont.

Route description

SR 79 begins at I-8, about 35 miles (56 km) east of San Diego. The road runs along Old Highway 80 in the town of Descanso, until splitting to the north at a T intersection. The route then traverses Cuyamaca and Cuyamaca Rancho State Park on its way north. This portion of the route is very serpentine, with hairpin turns, as it follows the contours of the land by moving laterally, rather than up-and-down or via cuts.[2]

It then overlaps SR 78 between Santa Ysabel and Julian, a distance of about eight miles (13 km). At Julian, both routes join at a T intersection just south of town, thus requiring a turn to stay on SR 79, and turn at an intersection in the northern portion of downtown. At Santa Ysabel, SR 79 comes to a T intersection with SR 78 running east–west. SR 79 continues northwest, meeting the eastern terminus of SR 76 near Lake Henshaw at the settlement of Morettis[3] and passing through Warner Springs before crossing into Riverside County. SR 79 then meets the western terminus of SR 371 before going through Aguanga.[2] It then passes Vail Lake and parallels Temecula Creek as it approaches the Temecula city limits,[2] where it becomes a city-maintained road.

It overlaps I-15 for about three miles through Temecula. The ramps connecting SR 79 to I-15 are the first and third ramps northbound (second and fourth southbound) of those located between the Riverside/San Diego county line and the I-15/I-215 junction. In both cases, to enter SR 79 from I-15, one must head slightly east (although SR 79 is signed as a north–south highway). The southern exit from I-15 is known as Temecula Parkway. SR 79 exits from I-15 in the northern area of Temecula as Winchester Road. It then runs along the eastern city limits of Murrieta before passing by the reservoir at Diamond Valley Lake. SR 79 continues through the community of Winchester and turns east on Florida Avenue west of Hemet. The section between those concurrent with SR 74 and Interstate 15 (in Temecula, Murrieta, Winchester, and Hemet) is signed as Winchester Road.[2]

In Hemet, SR 79 overlaps State Route 74 (Florida Avenue), following it eastward for a few miles before heading north again through San Jacinto. SR 79 goes over a range of hills (Lambs Canyon) and ends in Beaumont at Interstate 10.[2]

SR 79 is part of the California Freeway and Expressway System,[4] and from the northern I-15 junction to I-10 is part of the National Highway System,[5] a network of highways that are considered essential to the country's economy, defense, and mobility by the Federal Highway Administration.[6] It is eligible for the State Scenic Highway System;[7] however, it is not a scenic highway as defined by Caltrans.[8] In 2012, SR 79 had an annual average daily traffic (AADT) of 1,550 between Paso Picacho Campground and Sunrise Highway, and 30,500 at Murrieta Hot Springs Road, the latter of which was the highest AADT for the highway.[9]


A stage road went through Oak Grove, and stagecoaches ran from 1858 to 1861 on a route from San Francisco to St. Louis and Memphis.[10] A ranch house, Warner's Ranch, near Warner Springs was a stop on both the San Antonio–San Diego Mail and the Butterfield Overland Mail.[11] A railroad line to Cuyamaca was under construction by 1887,[12] though in 1889 the project encountered problems from workers departing to work in the nearby gold mines.[13] By 1906, the stage road ran from Temecula through Warner Springs into Santa Ysabel and Ramona,[14] and regularly scheduled automobile service was to begin in 1908 between San Diego and Warner Hot Springs.[15]

That year, at a meeting between citizens of Oceanside and Escondido, each city proposed that a road from it to Warner Springs be constructed; the roads would meet somewhere in the San Luis Rey River valley.[16] The president of the Escondido National Bank proposed a route from Escondido to Warner Springs shortly thereafter.[17] Meanwhile, in 1911 The San Diego Union described the future road to Descanso, and described a "branch of the highway" that went through the Valley of the Pines "which for beauty cannot be surpassed in the United States" before continuing to Julian, the beginning of the San Luis Rey River, and Oceanside.[18] However, the next year, the county highway commissioners determined that more funding would be needed to complete the road to Warner Springs.[19]

By November 1912, the road to Warner Springs from San Diego was completed, including the part from Santa Ysabel, which had been widened.[20] The road south of Julian to Decanso was open by 1916, but had a narrow crossing at the Cuyamaca dam, making the trip difficult.[21] In 1922, the Automobile Club of Southern California noted that from Santa Ysabel to Julian, the road was in good repair, as well as from Cuyamaca to Descanso, even though the latter was a dirt road; the Julian to Cuyamaca road had "several soft spots".[22] Seven years later, Julian residents expressed a desire to have the road from there to Descanso paved.[23] Between Descanso and Temecula, what was to become SR 79 was defined as Route 78 in 1933.[24]

In 1947, a contract to grade and pave part of what was known as State Sign Route 79 between Santa Ysabel and Julian was let, as paving of the highway progressed.[25] The next year, plans were presented to realign part of the road between Julian and Cuyamaca, including one proposal to have it cross the lake.[26] The California Chamber of Commerce made the suggestion in 1962 to convert SR 79 from Descanso to Julian to be an expressway.[27] However, in 1968 those plans were called into question when the county planning commission recommended that the freeway be realigned away from Cuyamaca State Park, or not be built at all.[28]

In the 1964 state highway renumbering, the highway was redefined as State Route 79, south of the junction with SR 71; from Temecula to that junction, the route was designated as SR 71 itself.[29] In 1974, the part between the former junction with SR 71 and I-15 was added to SR 79, and removed from SR 71.[30]

Originally, SR 79 was routed on Sage Road between Hemet and Radec.

Following the Cedar Fire in October 2003, utility poles and wires fell down on the highway, and the Cuyamaca area was heavily damaged.[31] The next year, part of SR 79 from the western junction of SR 78 to Engineers Road near Lake Cuyamaca was renamed the Firefighter Steven Rucker Memorial Highway, after the firefighter from Novato who died while volunteering to fight the wildfire in Wynola.[32] The City of Temecula proposed the construction of a four-lane road from State Route 79 that would bypass the city in 2005, though several obstacles to the plan, including aesthetic concerns and objections from the nearby Pechanga tribe, were noted.[33] During the mid-2010s, the part of SR 79 through Winchester was widened to four lanes up to Domenigoni Parkway.[34]


Due to increased traffic congestion through the San Jacinto Valley, there are plans to realign SR 79 to a new four-lane (eventually six-lane)[35] limited-access expressway, spanning approximately 12 miles from East Newport Road to the southern end of the current divided highway portion at Ramona Expressway. The selected alignment would have access points at Domenigoni Parkway, Grand Avenue, SR 74 (Florida Avenue), Esplanade Avenue/Warren Road, Cottonwood Avenue, Sanderson Avenue, and Ramona Expressway, with additional grade separations at Stetson Avenue and Devonshire Avenue.[36] An additional interchange with Mid County Parkway is proposed upon completion of that project. However, construction on the highway realignment has not begun because the project is only partially funded.[37]

Major intersections

Except where prefixed with a letter, postmiles were measured on the road as it was in 1964, based on the alignment that existed at the time, and do not necessarily reflect current mileage. R reflects a realignment in the route since then, M indicates a second realignment, L refers to an overlap due to a correction or change, and T indicates postmiles classified as temporary (for a full list of prefixes, see California postmile § Official postmile definitions).[1] Segments that remain unconstructed or have been relinquished to local control may be omitted. The numbers reset at county lines; the start and end postmiles in each county are given in the county column.

San Diego
SD L0.04-53.04
L0.04Japatul RoadContinuation beyond I-8
L0.04 I-8 – El Centro, San DiegoInterchange; south end of SR 79; I-8 exit 40
0.00Old Highway 80 – El CentroFormer US 80 east
14.44 CR S1 (Sunrise Highway) – Mount Laguna
58.13[N 1]

SR 78 east – Westmorland, Brawley
South end of SR 78 overlap
Santa Ysabel51.11[N 1]

SR 78 west / Washington Street – Ramona
North end of SR 78 overlap
Morettis Junction27.37
SR 76 west – Lake Henshaw, Palomar Mountain, Oceanside
31.70 CR S2 (San Felipe Road) – Ranchita, Borrego Springs
RIV 0.00-40.45
SR 371 east – Anza, Indio, Palm Desert
CR R3 north (Sage Road) – Hemet
Temecula16.07Butterfield Stage RoadNorth end of state maintenance
CR S16 south (Pechanga Parkway) – Pala
Former US 395 south
3.44[N 2]

I-15 south (Temecula Valley Freeway) / Temecula Parkway (to Old Town Front Street) – San Diego
Interchange; south end of I-15 overlap, I-15 exit 58
 South end of freeway on I-15
4.98[N 2]59Rancho California Road, Old Town Front Street
 North end of freeway on I-15
6.62[N 2]

I-15 north (Temecula Valley Freeway) / Winchester Road – Riverside, Los Angeles
Interchange; north end of I-15 overlap, I-15 exit 61
MurrietaR4.78Murrieta Hot Springs RoadSouth end of state maintenance
WinchesterM7.63Benton Road — Lake Skinner
R16.67Simpson Road
34.33[N 3]

SR 74 west (Florida Avenue) / Vista Place – Perris, Riverside
South end of SR 74 overlap
36.92[N 3]Warren RoadServes Hemet-Ryan Airport
40.59[N 3]
CR R3 south (State Street)
41.34[N 3]

SR 74 east (Florida Avenue) / San Jacinto Street
North end of SR 74 overlap
San Jacinto27.48Menlo AvenueNorth end of state maintenance
28.17Main Street, San Jacinto Avenue – Soboba Hot Springs
29.88State Street, Ramona Expressway
32.30Ramona Expressway, Sanderson AvenueSouth end of state maintenance
Gilman Hot SpringsM33.78Gilman Springs RoadInterchange
Beaumont40.45 I-10 – Indio, Los AngelesInterchange; north end of SR 79; I-10 exit 94
40.45Beaumont AvenueContinuation beyond I-10
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi
  1. ^ a b Indicates that the postmile represents the distance along SR 78 rather than SR 79.
  2. ^ a b c Indicates that the postmile represents the distance along I-15 rather than SR 79.
  3. ^ a b c d Indicates that the postmile represents the distance along SR 74 rather than SR 79.


  1. ^ a b c California Department of Transportation. "State Truck Route List". Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. Archived from the original (XLS file) on June 30, 2015. Retrieved June 30, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c d e California Atlas and Gazetteer (Map). DeLorme. 2011. pp. 142, 149, 150, 155.
  3. ^ Stone, Joe (November 15, 1964). "The Map Is Not The Territory". The San Diego Union. p. B1.
  4. ^ "Article 2 of Chapter 2 of Division 1". California Streets and Highways Code. Sacramento: California Office of Legislative Counsel. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  5. ^ Federal Highway Administration (March 25, 2015). National Highway System: California (South) (PDF) (Map). Scale not given. Washington, DC: Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  6. ^ Natzke, Stefan; Neathery, Mike & Adderly, Kevin (June 20, 2012). "What is the National Highway System?". National Highway System. Washington, DC: Federal Highway Administration. Retrieved July 1, 2012.
  7. ^ "Article 2.5 of Chapter 2 of Division 1". California Streets & Highways Code. Sacramento: California Office of Legislative Counsel. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
  8. ^ California Department of Transportation (August 2019). "Officially Designated State Scenic Highways and Historic Parkways" (XLSX). Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 12, 2017.
  9. ^ a b California Department of Transportation (2012). "All Traffic Volumes on CSHS". Sacramento: California Department of Transportation. Retrieved January 8, 2014.
  10. ^ Brandais, Jack (July 23, 2005). "Big V-8s and Buddhas". San Diego Union-Tribune. p. Wheels 1.
  11. ^ Ciaramella, Carl (March 27, 2011). "Landmark From County's Pioneer Days Being Restored". San Diego Union-Tribune. p. NCT-4.
  12. ^ Staff (December 11, 1887). "Track and Tie". The San Diego Union and Daily Bee. p. 5.
  13. ^ Staff (March 7, 1889). "The Cuyamaca". The San Diego Union and Daily Bee. p. 1.
  14. ^ Staff (June 25, 1906). "Seeing San Diego's Back Country". The San Diego Union and Daily Bee. p. 3.
  15. ^ Staff (May 8, 1908). "Auto Stage Line to Warner Springs". The San Diego Union and Daily Bee. p. 12.
  16. ^ Staff (July 11, 1908). "Escondido Will Wage An Independent Campaign In Interests of Good Roads". The San Diego Union and Daily Bee. p. 5.
  17. ^ Staff (July 18, 1908). "Fine Showing by Escondido Bank". The San Diego Union and Daily Bee. p. 5.
  18. ^ Staff (January 2, 1911). "Descanso Noted as Delightful Vacation Resort". The San Diego Union and Daily Bee. p. 5.
  19. ^ Staff (May 8, 1912). "Money Needed to Complete Roads Says Board". The San Diego Union and Daily Bee. p. 10.
  20. ^ Staff (November 28, 1912). "Roads Improved". The San Diego Union. p. 3.
  21. ^ Staff (July 16, 1916). "Road Condition Rapidly Improving". The San Diego Union. p. 3.
  22. ^ Staff (April 22, 1922). "Scout Car Gets Highway Data". The San Diego Union. p. 18.
  23. ^ Staff (February 3, 1929). "Back Country Urges Support For New Road Into Imperial". The San Diego Union. p. Development.
  24. ^ California State Assembly. An act to amend sections 2, 3 and 5 and to add two sections to be numbered 6 and 7 to an act entitled 'An act to provide for the acquisition of rights of way for and the construction, maintenance... Fiftieth Session of the Legislature. Statutes of California. State of California. Ch. 767, pp. 2034–2042.
  25. ^ Staff (February 19, 1947). "County Road Job Let". The San Diego Union. p. 2A.
  26. ^ Staff (October 12, 1948). "Linking of Highways 395, 101 to Freeways Outlined". The San Diego Union. p. 4A.
  27. ^ Staff (August 23, 1962). "State C of C Urges New Roads In Area". The San Diego Union. p. C17.
  28. ^ Staff (June 22, 1968). "County Seeks Freeway Shift To Miss Park". The San Diego Union. p. B3.
  29. ^ California State Assembly. An act to add Section 253 and Article 3 (commencing with Section 300) to Chapter 2 of Division 1 of, and to repeal Section 253 and Article 3 (commencing with Section 300) of Chapter 2 of Division 1 of, the... 1963 Session of the Legislature. Statutes of California. State of California. Ch. 385, p. 1182.
  30. ^ California State Assembly. An act to amend Sections 315, 371, and 379 of, to add Sections 315.1, 379.1, 494, 494.1, 494.2, 607.1 and 607.2 of, and to repeal Section 331 of, the Streets and Highways Code, relating to state highways, and declaring the... 1973–1974 Session of the Legislature. Statutes of California. State of California. Ch. 537.
  31. ^ Zieralski, Ed (October 30, 2003). "Lost treasures". San Diego Union-Tribune. p. D1.
  32. ^ Fitzsimons, Elizabeth (August 14, 2004). "Part of SR 79 dedicated to firefighter". San Diego Union Tribune. p. B1.
  33. ^ Williams, Brooke (May 11, 2005). "Temecula bypass plan faces bumpy ride". San Diego Union-Tribune. p. B5.
  34. ^ Downey, Dave (February 26, 2013). "Clinton Keith, Route 79 closures set". U-T San Diego. p. NR2.
  35. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-05-26. Retrieved 2018-07-24.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  36. ^ All articles with bare URLs for citations[bare URL PDF]
  37. ^ "Route 79 Realignment Project". Riverside County Transportation Commission. Riverside County Transportation Commission. Retrieved 1 February 2021.
  38. ^ California Department of Transportation (July 2007). "Log of Bridges on State Highways". Sacramento: California Department of Transportation.
  39. ^ Warring, KS (June 12, 2008). "Interstate 15 Freeway Interchanges" (PDF). California Numbered Exit Uniform System. California Department of Transportation. Retrieved 2009-02-05.

External links